Microsoft talks agile at TechEd

Lack of product announcements shifts developer focus to IT strategy.

With its flagship Professional Developer Conference scrapped, the Microsoft developer instead turns to Orlando in Florida this week for the US-based TechEd conference, where Microsoft is talking strategy as future launches fall into next year.

In a keynote speech that was thin on meaningful content, Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's Server and Tools business told delegates that future IT strategy has to be less about big implementation and more focused on extracting value. "Big vision doesn't work. Budgets are being spent 70/30 with the bulk going on maintenance." According to Muglia "the solution "is about optimisation models which will help shift spend from maintenance to new software and services."

"We have several key initiatives to make this happen; one is our Dynamic Systems Initiative where we are four years into a ten year plan. Another is dotNET, our programming environment. We also have our Trustworthy Computing initiative which focuses on securing the platform, best practices, solutions and now software solutions to secure resources."

According to Microsoft, one of the biggest keys to making this work is Dynamic IT and Muglia said "we have been having conversations with customers and analysts around Dynamic IT. It started three years ago and one of the people we have listened to is Tom Bittman, vice president of Gartner who has encouraged us to think more holistically."Muglia noted that Dynamic IT will serve as the framework for Microsoft's development efforts in the coming years, and that new and soon-to-be-released products were created with these technology innovation areas in mind.

Bittman, who was also on stage, focused on agile computing - opportunistically (or on user demand) discovering and taking advantage of available resources in order to improve capability, performance, efficiency and fault tolerance. He told the audience "Agility is more and more important as a differentiator. The problem with agile computing is that it must be system wide. Anything that is not Agile, will stop the whole thing from working."

"There are three areas that companies must look to in order to be agile. The first is cost and this is not just about lowering it but changing the equation and the economics. We must move away from do more with less and towards paying for what the business needs - the utility model."

Some announcements were made during the keynote, including the name for the next release of SQL Server, previously codenamed Katmai. Unsurprisingly, the product will be henceforth known as Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Meanwhile the final name for the next release of Visual Studio Orcas will be Visual Studio 2008.

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